January 08, 1868

Mark Twain on His Book “Innocents Abroad”; His Lecture “The Frozen Truth”; and Awful Photos of Him, “Those Constantinople Pictures”

Autograph Letter Signed
8 pages
SMC 1684

This long and flirtatious letter between bachelor Clemens and young Miss Beach has much to do with their recently shared “Quaker City” excursion to Europe and the Holy Land. He has been up all night writing a lecture about the “Quaker City” voyage to be given the next night to be called “The Frozen Truth!” – a title, he says, that “has got just about as much truth in it as it has poetry.” He was going to give a copy of his book (The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County) to Miss Beach’s father Moses Beach - also a Quaker City excursionist – to hand to his neighbor, the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, but didn’t. Now he will, however, and shall send one too to Mrs. Beach, “so that she can see that I can tell the truth in print when I brace myself up to it.”

He asks that when Miss Beach sees Captain Duncan (the Captain of the “Quaker City,” whom Twain came to loathe) that she tell him how busy Clemens is “getting ready to tell the truth to-morrow night,” at a lecture Duncan will give. He explains that he told Duncan he would be present at the lecture that very night, but now he is not so sure he will be able to attend; then, even as he writes, he changes his mind:

Never mind—I WILL go & hear him to-night. I did not know that I was to lecture, myself, until I was informed of it at 10 o’clock last night. If I were unoccupied, I would run about town & canvas for the Captain to-day. It wouldn’t help his pocket any, but lecturers always like to have a crowded house.

Clemens reports he has just had a letter from Quaker City traveler Mary Mason Fairbanks, and praises it, and her: “such a bright, pleasant letter as that most excellent woman always writes.” And then, too, there is the issue of his Constantinople portrait, which he cannot find but promises to look for again and send to Miss Beach – although it is so bad a likeness, he might as well send her a picture of the Sphinx.

 

Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pages, octavo, 224 F street, Washington, D.C. “Valentine’s Day," January 8, no year [1868]. To Miss Emma Beach.

 
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